Darius McCaskey

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St. Valentine’s Day Poem

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Poetry, Valentine's Day, Tags: , , , ,

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Sunday, I thought I would share one of my love poems with you. You can find this piece and over three dozen other poems in my chapbook, Angst and Wrath. You can buy a print or electronic copy of Angst and Wrath from my Lulu store for under fifteen bucks. What a deal!

I Think Of You

When I’m afraid,

I think of you.

When I’m alone,

I think of you.

When I’m frustrated,

I think of you.

I think of you

and your loving embrace.

I think of you

when I leave this place.

I think of you

and your pretty face.

When I’m sad,

I think of you.

When I’m being bad,

I think of you.

When I’m glad,

I think of you.

I think of you

when we play.

I think of you

every night and day.

I think of you

and my problems go away.

No matter what I say or do

I think of you.

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Read Reckoning!

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Categories: Aegis Studios, Comics, Tags: , , , , , ,

I would like to strongly encourage everyone who’s remotely into comics to check out my friend Travis Legge’s webcomic, Reckoning. Travis’s description of Reckoning is “a webcomic about love, loss, and revenge.” It’s a great read and his weekly updates make it easy to follow the story without sacrificing a ton of time or waiting until the local comics shop gets their shipment (a sketchy proposition at best around these parts lately). This book is recommended for mature readers and with good reason. If you can’t stomach graphic violence, nudity, and language, you may want to skip Reckoning. If, however, you like your comics hard-boiled and distilled to a razor-sharp edge, put Reckoning in your favorites or subscribe via RSS.

The art is truly top-notch, though I wish it were in color. That being said, Santiago Espina’s pencils and inks are exceptional. The art brings into stark contrast the current dark world of the book and the happier times of the past. One almost gets a sense of two different protagonists through the divergent styles used in main sequences and in flashbacks.

Justine, who is the protagonist of the story, is every bit the deranged vigilante of dark anti-hero comics. Picture the Punisher, thirty years younger with a nice rack, and you begin to glimpse who Justine is. Justine is a normal girl, with relatively normal problems and life events. What makes her comic book hero material is her complete and utter lack of a normal response to those problems and events. Justine is as her name implies: justice, with no regard for the means used to achieve it. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but in the very first issue, Justine takes out one of the villians in a manner befitting a mohel. You’ll have to see it for yourself; trust me.

I have a certain affection for this comic based on its history, also. The initial seeds of this story blossomed from an idea Travis had many moons ago for a character that was to be called the “Prowler”. The Prowler was to be one of the first titles produced by Aegis Studios, which was then envisioned as a comics publishing company. Travis and I began work on Prowler and another comic, Nephalim. A quick copyright search revealed that Marvel already had a character named the Prowler (a pseudo-Batman character), so the comic became known as Retribution. We did get the first issue of Retribution printed and even went to a few cons to promote it. (In fact, I still have a box of Retribution comics in storage that I plan on hawking on eBay when Travis becomes a rich Hollywood writer/ director. Either that, or I’ll use them as blackmail material after same.) Our focus changed shortly thereafter to role-playing game publishing, however, and Retribution died the swift, painful death of many indie comics.

The death of Retribution was necessary and good for the life of Reckoning. Like the phoenix, the ashes of Retribution allowed something stronger and more beautiful to emerge. Reckoning strips away the cumbersome and clichéed parts of the old story and gives a unique perspective into the possibilities lurking beneath the surface of us all. The rebirth of Reckoning also brings in fresh artistic talent, something Retribution had a sore problem with. (No offense, Matt, but the old book did not look good.)

If you like gritty, graphic comics with psychologically tortured characters and gorgeous artwork, click on the banner below and check out Reckoning. While you’re at it, subscribe to the RSS feed on the website, follow Travis Legge on Twitter and friend his ass on Facebook. When your friends come up to you a year from now talking about this “Leg” dude you can correct their spelling, tell them you’ve been reading his stuff for months now and that they suck for not following the Screw City’s biggest talent sooner.

P.S: Though Travis is a good friend of mine, I assure you that this review was completely unsolicited and that the statements above reflect my honest views of my friend’s work. Ask Travis himself: I am not afraid to tell him when what he’s doing sucks eggs, and Reckoning definitely does not suck eggs.

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Vanity

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Categories: Health, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For those of you who have known me for some time, you may have noticed that my hair is not as full and luxurious as it once was. For those of you who haven’t known me as long, trust me: my hair is getting thinner. This comes as no surprise: my maternal grandfather is definitely thin up top and my great-grandfather was quite bald when he passed away.

I, however, was determined to keep from losing my hair completely. I like having hair and, as I proved for a short period in high school, my naked head is less than beautiful. In fact, my melon is rather lumpy from many childhood head injuries (which may explain a lot about me, but that’s a blog for another day). A few months ago, I started taking minoxidil (the generic name for a prescription drug whose name I’m not going to use since I don’t want to get sued by a major drug company) in an attempt to deny fate and keep what hair I have left.

It turns out that this attempt at vanity is futile. Shortly after I started taking the hair-saving snake oil, I started getting dizzy spells. Mostly they came when taking the elevator at work or turning my head quickly. At first I didn’t think too much of it. Then when my friend (who’s only about a year older than me) went to the ER with chest pains, I started to get a bit concerned. Generally speaking, dizziness for no apparent reason is a good indicator of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is not good for one’s heart or brain. Since there’s some history of stroke in my family, I was doubly concerned.

But I still didn’t go to the doctor and I didn’t stop taking my precious hair tonic. I figured that since I was working out on a regular basis, I could get my blood pressure (as I thought the problem was at the time) under control and the vertigo would go away. Then I gained 10 pounds in about as many days.

That’s when I stopped and thought about the situation. I remembered something about weight gain on the drug packaging. I went back to the label and there it was in black and white.

Side effects may include:

  • Turning you into a giant fat ass.
  • Making your fat ass fall down in public because you got dizzy taking a five story elevator ride.

OK, maybe that’s not exactly what it said, but it’s pretty accurate. Both of the major health problems I’d been having were directly attributable to me not wanting to have the rest of my hair fall out. This was confirmed today by my doctor, whose skills and judgment I find to be of the highest caliber. (He diagnosed the herniated discs in my back because I had a pain in my lower abdomen. I would have never guessed in a million years that my back was the problem, but he knew it within five minutes. That’s damned fine doctoring, in my opinion.)

I’ve stopped taking the minoxidil and have resigned myself to the fate of becoming a cue ball. But at least now I won’t fall down and look like a jackass or have my heart explode in my chest like a baked potato because I weigh five thousand pounds.

And the moral of the story is this: vanity can be a good thing if it’s properly restrained. I was misguided in taking a stupid drug just to keep my appearance intact. But, not wanting to be a hideously obese C.H.U.D. is what ultimately got me to see the doctor and get an answer (and solution!) to my problem. My blood pressure is in good shape and I’ve started losing weight again. Yes, I’m sad that I’m going to lose my hair, but I’m less sad that I can get back on track with my exercise goals and (hopefully!) remain alive and healthy to see my daughter grow up.  Besides, bald is beautiful, right? If I look half as good as the specimen in Exhibit A, below, I think I’ll be OK.

Patrick Stewart

Make it so!

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WordPress Config

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Categories: Blog, Geek Stuff, Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been working with WordPress since I set up my own site at http://3.136.9.181 and I’ve finally found a theme that seems to render well on both Macs and PCs, using a variety of browsers. I would have never imagined that it would be so difficult, but I have tried literally dozens of themes without much success. I am running the “Tech2” theme by DewDrop and it’s working very well.

I also have a nice collection of plugins that extend the features and functionality of WordPress, mainly in the realm of social media. The plugins I’m using are:

  • AddToAny: Share/Bookmark/Email Button
  • Akismet
  • bbPress Integration
  • Blog Copyright (by BTE)
  • Contact Form 7
  • Facebook Comments TNG
  • Find Me On
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Local Time
  • MobilePress
  • Shadowbox JS
  • Theme My Login
  • Twitter Goodies
  • User Locker
  • Wordbook
  • WordTwit
  • WP Render Blogroll Links

All of the plugins above work with my version of WordPress (2.9.1). If you’re running a WordPress site, check these plugins out. Most have been very easy to set up and configured the way I want them to work very easily. If you have any questions on how I have individual plugins configured, please feel free to use the “Contact Me” page at http://3.136.9.181 to shoot me an email. I’ll be happy to help (with the best of my ability).

Good luck and happy blogging!

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Thanks For The Music

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Categories: Bands & Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It occurs to me that music is a very important part of my life. It also occurs to me that most of the music I listen to and like was introduced to me by someone I know. In the interests of disclosure and acknowledgement, I’d like to share some of my musical tastes and who introduced me to the artist(s) in question. So, without further ado, here’s the riff:

I was introduced to my favorite band of all time, Rush, by my mother. I have some very clear memories as a child listening to “Tom Sawyer” in the car and at home on the stereo. My mom had Moving Pictures on cassette. That tape was listened to so many times that the last time I heard it, there were noticeable pops and crackles on almost every song. I “borrowed” the Moving Pictures cassette for quite a long time. It didn’t occur to me until I was about 16 that the record I loved was released the year I was born. Pretty amazing longevity, don’t you think? Thanks, mom: I owe you big time for holding on to that tape even after Rush stopped being popular.

I’ve never been into what’s popular. I’m sure that’s part of why I hated Nine Inch Nails when I first heard “Closer.” To me it sounded like some strange white-boy rap. At the time, I was into grunge rock still, listening to a lot of Nirvana and Soundgarden. Then my friend, Toy Cesar, made me a tape of some Nirvana B-sides. To fill up the blank space on the cassette, he included some tracks from NIN’s Broken EP. I heard “Last” and I was hooked. Thanks for not being wasteful with cassette tape, Toy: The Downward Spiral was my salvation when I broke up with my first true love a year later.

Speaking of my first true love, Mary Richards (née Watson) introduced me to Tori Amos (quite literally, I was completely star-struck and speechless when we met Tori backstage outside the Coronado). Little Earthquakes remains one of my favorite albums of all time and every time I hear the song with the same name, I’m reminded of one of my first messy and awkward teenage romances. Thanks, Mary, for introducing me to one of the most beautiful artists ever.

My wife, Tiffanie, is also a beautiful artist, albeit of a different sort than Tori Amos. Tiff has gotten me listening to quite a few musicians I probably wouldn’t have found without her intervention. Marilyn Manson, Deftones, and Orgy are just a few of the groups that she’s introduced me to over the years. The most recent band to join my clique of acts I enjoy is Stabbing Westward. Their record, Wither Blister Burn and Peel, is emotionally disturbing industrial at its finest. Thanks, babe, for challenging me to push my boundaries, both in music and in life.

Some music challenges you. It’s like a sonic version of Citizen Kane. Other music is more like There’s Something About Mary: entertaining, but not very heavy on substance. Huey Lewis and the News is my favorite “light” band. I have my aunt, Lisa Hermanson, to thank for my love of Huey. I remember many fun times with her, driving around the back roads near Belvidere, Illinois, listening to “The Heart of Rock N’ Roll.” Thanks, Aunt Lisa, for giving me some lighthearted times to make my childhood a bit more bearable.

There are many more bands I like and people I could thank, but this post is getting pretty long as it is. I’ll finish up by thanking my friend Mike Diamond (and, indirectly, his brother Brian) for my bonding with Vic Rattlehead, Megadeth’s mascot extraordinaire. I had heard Megadeth before I met Mike, but it never really caught my interest. Then Mike let me borrow his (or his brother’s: I’m not really sure) copy of Youthanasia. With ferocious guitars and thoughtful lyrics, Youthanasia made me a die-hard Megadeth fan instantly. While Cryptic Writings is my favorite Megadeth record of all, I’d still like to thank Mike Diamond for getting me to “taste the high-speed dirt.”

So long, and thanks for all the music!

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It’s (A)live!

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Tags: , , , , ,

Angst & Wrath officially went live today and is now available for print on demand and PDF download purchase through Lulu.com! I’m positively giddy with excitement!

The book will also be available through Amazon.com in the near future, most likely in about 6 weeks. I’ll be sure to post once it’s available on their website for those of you who prefer that ordering method.

I also hope to have the audiobook version available for purchase by this summer: more news to come on that front as well.

For now, grab yourself a copy of Angst & Wrath, print or PDF, sit down, read it and please write a review at WeRead.com. Thanks again for all your support!

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Squeee!

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Tags: , ,

The official release of Angst & Wrath is almost here! Squeee!

If you haven’t already, become a fan on Facebook. Facebook fans of Angst & Wrath will receive a link to preorder the book for $5 off the normal retail price. Today is the last day to get the special offer.

Not a fan of paper? No problem: the $5 off code applies to the PDF download version of the book as well. (Note that the ePub version, compatible with iPhone and iPad, is not available for sale yet.) What a deal!

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Facebook Fans FTW

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Categories: Angst & Wrath, Tags: , ,

As we approach the official release date for Angst & Wrath, I feel it necessary to let the world know that I love my fans on Facebook. I love them so much, in fact, that I’m giving them a chance to purchase Angst & Wrath before the rest of the interwebs and at a five dollar discount off the normal price. Become a fan of Angst & Wrath on Facebook, follow the link and get some poetry. It’s that easy! 🙂

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